Audi Q8 review: an SUV that’s easy on the eye and effortless to drive
The Vorsprung model is unquestionably costly, but you can’t put a price on peace of mind
With its sloping saloon-style roofline, four-wheel steering and Bang & Olufsen sound system, the Audi Q8 perfectly sums up the 4x4’s evolution from burly off-roader to luxury family SUV.
Audi’s flagship Q8 is fantastic looking, sporty and jam-packed with innovative features. Granted, it isn’t their biggest in terms of boot space - a little confusingly the squarer looking Q7 holds the ace here - but it’s just as roomy for passengers who will be very comfortable in the deluxe interior.
We got behind the wheel of the £84,375 brilliantly named all-singing, all-dancing top spec Vorsprung. There are two other trim levels available, starting at £67,050 for the S-Line and then the Black, but rest assured, even the most entry level maintains the good looks and luxury - basic doesn’t feature in the Q8’s vocabulary.
The 286hp, 3.0-litre V6 diesel that we drove ticks off 0-60 in a swift 6.3 seconds. We found this performance to be more than adequate - particularly for a 2.1 tonne SUV - when overtaking and some moments of fun, yet normal everyday driving was very smooth and easy too.
Fuel economy for this diesel engine is around 33mpg; we achieved this driving some 500 miles on motorways and country lanes, and a full tank offers a generous range of around 550 miles. With adaptive air suspension, you can choose a stiffer performance setting should you wish, but we left it largely in Comfort setting which was ideal for typical everyday driving - more than adequately planted on the road.
Stepping inside, the elegant frameless door - which incidentally in the dark projects the Audi logo onto the floor - will soft close and you’ll find yourself cocooned in sumptuous surroundings. The quilted style leather seats are very comfortable and highly adjustable, plus in the front there’s integrated ventilation and massage features - all as standard in the Vorsprung. Under the armrest you’ll find a wireless charging pad and USB ports to charge your bevvy of devices, and the central console has two cup holders - although these could be more generously sized in order to hold larger bottles.
The dual-touchscreen infotainment system takes care of nearly all functionally and hooks up with Apple CarPlay allowing you to play Spotify or navigate using Google Maps. The steering wheel has a host of buttons on it so you rarely need to remove your hands, and the head up display notes current speed, speed limit and any live driver assist functions.
The Bang & Olufsen sound system is, as one would expect, sublime complete with a big subwoofer for huge bass. Audi has, perhaps, taken a more traditional approach to aspects like having two buttons for the hand brake - which we never touched once - and a big gear stick. These all take up valuable space, and with the likes of Tesla removing all physical features like this, leaving more space for storage and a cleaner interior, perhaps we’ll see a more paired back central console in future editions?
Boot space is pretty generous, particularly considering the Q8’s swept back design. With the seats up, you have 605 litres - sufficient for all but the most luggage-heavy trips - and with the back seats folded down it’ll reach 1,755 litres. If you need a tow-bar, this is a £1,100 option which in a Houdini-like way folds away at the press of a button in the boot, thereby keeping the car’s aesthetics when not in use - we’ve never seen that before!
Cruising on the motorway is effortless - with eight-speed transmission the engine ticks over at very low RPMs so is very quiet, and the driver assist will keep you in your lane as well as a safe distance from the car in front.
Some self-driving systems in reality can be quite unrelaxing to use, with loud warning sounds, but we found this not to be the case for Audi’s so it was a welcome aide. Four-wheel steering comes as standard on the Vorsprung which particularly helps to reduce turning circle as well as coming to the fore for parallel parking in a tight spot.
With coupe-style design, it’s inevitable that the Q8’s boot space won’t stack up against some of the more traditionally designed SUVs. However, besides this, you get all the other benefits of an SUV bundled into a car that is very comfortable to sit in, effortless to drive and exceptionally easy on the eye.
Edging towards the £100k marker for the Vorsprung, it’s unquestionably pricey, however the peace of mind that comes with Audi’s engineering expertise, as well as an exhaustive specs list, it does start to stack up.